Thursday, January 28, 2016

NXT TakeOver: Dallas News

Last night's set of NXT tapings has the internet abuzz with anticipation.  Aside from the Samoa Joe-Sami Zayn 2/3 Falls match, which on paper seems likely to fall high on the list of WWE's best matches of 2016, the pieces have fallen into place for NXT's highly anticipated TakeOver: Dallas special on April 1st (two days before WrestleMania 32).


Joe's win over Sami earned him another shot at Finn Balor's NXT Championship, which will take place at TakeOver.  Their London match last year was an excellent piece of wrestling but still left room for the two to explore additional territory in a rematch.  This bout has the potential to play off of that one and in turn blow it out of the water.

Additionally it was announced that Asuka will finally get a crack at Bayley's Women's Title, a match the NXT faithful have been salivating for.  Asuka is already one of the most exciting talents in all of WWE, filling the very large NXT void left by Sasha Banks last summer.  Bayley has proven herself more than worthy of carrying the Women's division and it's only a matter of time before she joins her fellow Horsewomen on the main roster.  This match could very well steal both the show and the entire 'Mania weekend just like Bayley-Banks did in Brooklyn.

Balor-Joe II will be amazing.

The Tag Team Titles will also be up for grabs as Champions Dash & Dawson (a team reminiscent of the Andersons) face Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, one of the most impressive young teams in years.  This should be full of fantastic technical wrestling harkening back to the heyday of tag teams.  It's been a long time since we've been treated to a WWE tag match like this.

The two opening bouts will pit Apollo Crews against Elias Samson, and accomplished technical master Austin Aries against NXT veteran Baron Corbin.  Both of those should be solid undercard bouts.

But probably the most exciting news to come out of last night's tapings is the announcement that Sami Zayn will be facing none other than Japanese sensation (and currently my favorite active wrestler in the world), Shinsuke Nakamura!  I'm not even sure how they were legally allowed to shoot this segment given Nakamura's New Japan contract doesn't expire until Sunday, but Nak appeared on the Titantron and challenged Zayn to the match (Maybe they're clear since the segment won't air until March).

Ever since Nak gave his notice to NJPW I've been extremely wary of his decision to sign with WWE.  Nakamura is a unique, very special talent, and WWE's track record over the past decade of handling unique talents has been questionable at best.  While unconventional main eventers like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have managed to succeed, it's largely been in spite of WWE's best efforts, not because of them.  The fact that Nakamura is headed to NXT rather than the main roster is encouraging - we'll see him in an environment conducive to success, and with a built-in audience already at least somewhat familiar with his previous accomplishments.  Much like Asuka, Nakamura will be greeted with open, eager arms by the NXT fans, and by the time he gets called up to the main roster he'll already have established a buzz-worthy WWE cache.

This looks both totally wrong and totally correct.

The five-star match possibilities for Nakamura, both on the NXT roster and the RAW/Smackdown one, are seemingly endless, provided WWE Creative has the sense to run with them.  Aside from the obvious Nak-Zayn, Nak-Joe, Nak-Balor, Nak-Aries matchups we could eventually see a rematch against AJ Styles or Kevin Owens, dream matches against Seth Rollins, Deam Ambrose, Chris Jericho, John Cena, and hopefully (if WWE comes to their senses) the ultimate dream match, Nakamura vs. Daniel Bryan.

Nakamura has been twice voted the Most Charismatic Wrestler of the Year by the readers of Wrestling Observer, and it's easy to see why.  The man projects a captivating magnetism in a way no one else in the industry can.  Every move, gesture, facial expression, strike, submission is completely his own and completely believable.  If given room to thrive, Nakamura could be a major WWE player over the next five years.  It really all depends on Vince McMahon setting aside his prejudices about what constitutes a main eventer and just letting the guy do his job, because guess what - he does it better than anyone in the world right now.

I just hope WWE understands what they have.

One thing is certain, Vince has his work very much cut out for him if he hopes to top TakeOver: Dallas that weekend.

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